The signing of the Australia-Indonesia Free Trade Agreement is a positive step forward.
This is an agreement that was started under Labor and its finalisation is the product of many years of hard work on both sides of politics.
Labor started these negotiations because trade with Indonesia is massively underdone.
In fact, in the last five years total trade has gone backwards by almost a billion dollars – down to $11.2 billion in the last financial year.
We trade more with nations like New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia than we do with Indonesia.
18,000 Australian companies currently export to New Zealand, but only 2000 export to Indonesia.
Indonesia is set to become a global economic powerhouse in the decades ahead.
As Paul Keating said, no country is more important to Australia than Indonesia.
Labor looks forward to closely examining the details of this agreement once they are released. This process will occur through the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, which will need to consider the agreement in the next Parliament as the committee requires 20 sitting days to consider its report.
Labor supports trade agreements that deliver more opportunities for businesses, more jobs for Australians, and protect Australian workers.
Agricultural exports are critically important for Australia’s economy – and Indonesia is an important market. Labor recognises the importance of agricultural exports such as beef, wheat and sugar.
We urge the Government to make detailed economic modelling available to help build community support for trade.
A Shorten Labor Government will require all future trade agreements to be subject to independent analysis, to ensure that agreements deliver the benefits to Australians that are promised.
A future Labor Government would examine labour market testing waivers to ensure that free trade agreements cannot be used to undercut the wages and conditions of Australian workers.
More generally, Australia needs to do more to deepen our engagement with Indonesia.
That’s why as part of our FutureAsia initiative, Labor will:
· Formalise annual meetings between our finance and trade ministers in an economics and investment 2+2;
· Commission an independent Indonesia Economic Strategy similar to the process used for Peter Varghese’s India Economic Strategy report;
· Conduct annual trade missions to Indonesia, and
· Establish reciprocal internship arrangements for recent Australian and Indonesian graduates